Arkansas Judge (1941)
Peaceful Valley town-founder, Judge Abner Weaver is distressed when the townspeople begin gossiping and “bearing false witness'” against Mary Shoemaker , the community handy-woman, who is charged with having stolen fifty dollars from Widow Smithers , and he and his wife Elviry and brother Cicero stoutly defend Mary. The theft becomes a matter of community interest when a rumor is circulated that Hettie Huston , daughter of the local banker, August Houston, has stolen the money in order to buy an expensive evening gown with which to dazzle Tom Martel, a young lawyer whose legal education was sponsored by Judge Weaver, whose daughter Margaret is also in love with Tom, and the young lawyer is torn between the sophisticated attractions of Hettie and the simple charm of Margaret. In order to save his daughter’s reputation, August Houston is eager to have Mary Shoemaker’s guilt established and to induce her to quietly leave town. Judge Weaver (not on the bench)defends her so heatedly that Huston institutes a slander-suit against his old friend, charging him with having damaged Hettie’s reputation. Margaret feels that inasmuch as her father has financed Tom’s legal education, it is his duty to defend her father. But Tom is smitten with Hettie and proposes to her, and refuses to side against her in the trial. As the trial proceeds, it becomes apparent that all the witnesses are testifying against Judge Weaver because Huston and his bank hold notes and mortgages on their homes and businesses. Tom can stand it no longer and determines to defend the Judge, even though it may mean breaking his engagement to Hettie, no matter how smitten he may be. When it is suggested that Judge Weaver started the rumor against Hettie because his daughter was in love with Tom and jealous of Hettie, Tom puts Margaret on the stand and asks her to refute the statement. Margaret cannot swear, under oath, that she doesn’t love Tom; and, as a result of her admission of love, the case is lost. But Huston magnanimously declines to accept from Judge Weaver the judgment the court has awarded him, on condition that Mary Shoemaker be sent out of town. Judge Weaver, knowing that Mary was not the one who stole the money, declines the offer. Meanwhile, a group of the town’s riff-raff decide to take matter in their own hands and set fire to Mary’s House. BUT, Mary is inside the house.